Thursday, May 7, 2009

Manage Up!

11:30-12:45 Thursday, May 7, 2009 Manage Up!

Speaker: Diane Young, Library Consultant (Itinerant Librarian for the Mass Lib Association)

Diane offers an interactive workshop on how to manage your boss, or rather, how to convince your boss to say yes. There is always a superior and a subordinate. The superior, however, always has the upper hand. Even if you have a really great boss, you will always hit a wall in getting what you want/need. Diane stresses that every human being is fallible. Diane states that there are 8 things/steps to consider in communicating with your boss. Diane created an acronym--"INTREPID"--but it does not quite translate below as she lists the points out of order.

1. Issues

What are your boss's favorite issues? What is your boss excited about? What is it that your boss talks about or is passionate about? Diane opened this question up to the audience. Responses included furniture, degrees, databases and workshops. How do we know what our boss is interested in? The audience stated that they talk to co-workers, talked to their boss at meetings, saw initiatives their boss was working on.

2. Pressures

What are the pressures on your boss? Some responses include budgeting challenges, negotiating licensing with vendors, personality conflicts and faculty relationships.

3. Ramifications

How does your idea affect other divisions? The budget? The customers?
On member of the audience talked about her trouble in getting new stacks for the children's room. She is conscious of taking money away from others. She sees the problem: the stacks are dangerous, when will they be fixed. Another audience member discussed the challenges of getting a wiki for the children's room to document schedules and usage.

4. Non-threatening

How can you make your idea non-threatening? Incremental? No cost? Can you do it for a trial without including a cost? Diane thinks this is pretty straightforward. The problem, as one audeience member states, is that many people find any idea that is different as threatening.

5. Dignity

How will you respect your boss's dignity? How can you make your boss look good and feel good? Be mindful of your boss's image and feelings. Diane suggests that it wouldn't hurt to appear deferential by considering how a proposal or idea could help your boss's image

6. Empathy

The operative word is empathy. Praise upward. Diane uses the example of your boss laying off a staff member and acknowledging the difficulty of the situation. Empathy makes your boss listen, too.

7. Information

How does your boss like to receive information? Diane had a boss who interpreted Meyers-Briggs test results to effectively communicate with staff, respecting the way staff wanted to interact based on the Meyers-Briggs test results.
Diane also urges us to understand if our boss is a detail-oriented person or a big-picture oriented person.

8. Timing

Is your boss casual or strict about his time used? So how should you use time communicating your idea? This sort of falls under Information and the way your boss would like to communicate.

Diane then issues an assignment and gets the room to break down into different groups. Given an idea, a boss's issue, pressure, and preference for communication and timing, Diane invites groups to consider what they will say. What medium will each group use to convey the message? When will each group say it?

Each group presented one or two clever things they would say to their boss. One group proposed dropping the idea like a bombshell and letting their boss think about it for awhile before coming back to it.

Another group proposed the use of a wiki as being able to better serve the community to align with their boss's interest in serving the community. Another group made a case for allowing beverages in the library to minimize staffing problems at the circulation desk because there is less policing and more attention at the desk. Such a proposal would capitalize on their boss's predilection for organization and simple solutions.

Diane, of course, says to think before you leap. I guess we should add that it is important think about your boss before you leap. Maybe you can just try leaping on your boss--figuratively speaking. Give it a try!

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